EP - 064

From Invisible to Influential: How to Create Inspired Content

With Guest Amanda Natividad

How to create and engage with digital content to build and sustain a professional brand and community

The How To Sell More Podcast


April 23, 2024

How much thought do you give to the content you post? And after sharing, how invested are you in reading and responding to the comments? Do you take the feedback to heart?

In this episode of “How to Sell More,” host Mark Drager is joined by Amanda Natividad, VP of Marketing at audience research startup SparkToro, to pinpoint what your audience values most. At SparkToro, Amanda has launched a popular webinar series and an audience research newsletter with over 50,000 subscribers. No stranger to innovation and engagement in her field, she previously spearheaded marketing at Growth Machine and contributed to Fitbit’s B2B team.

They discuss how prioritizing content that resonates with your audience helps enhance your brand and foster community.

Community engagement thrives on genuine interaction: Responding to feedback and actively participating in conversations build a foundation of trust and loyalty.

The impact of strategic content creation: Content rooted in personal experience and expertise has more impact than generic advice, emphasizing the power of unique insights in fostering audience connection.

Stay in your lane at the beginning: When growing an audience in a certain industry, 80 to 90% of your content should be about that niche because that's the way that people will know what you do and why they should follow you.

“I think a big thing with community management and community growth is you really just have to roll up your sleeves and do the work.” -- Amanda Natividad

Links to This Episode

Key Takeaways

  • Genuine engagement and responsiveness foster community - Regularly interacting with your audience, acknowledging their contributions, and being present in discussions are crucial for community building. This approach demonstrates your commitment to the community and encourages more meaningful interactions.
  • Content creation should be driven by authenticity and a desire to add value - The focus should be on creating content that resonates with your audience's interests and needs. By prioritizing value over volume, you can establish yourself as a thought leader and trusted source of information.
  • Personal accountability and a focus on outcomes over activities drive progress - Setting personal benchmarks and goals aligned with the company's objectives, rather than strictly adhering to rigid processes or schedules, can lead to more meaningful contributions and job satisfaction.

Top 3 Reasons to Listen

Uncover the Secrets to Effective Content Creation: Amanda shares her approach to creating content that resonates with audiences by leveraging personal experiences and authenticity, providing a blueprint for engaging and thoughtful content strategies.

Learn About Building and Managing a Thriving Community: Gain insights into the importance of genuine engagement and responsiveness in community building, and how these efforts foster loyalty and trust among audience members.

Understand the Importance of Content Quality Over Quantity: Discover why focusing on the quality and value of your content, rather than just the volume, can lead to more meaningful connections with your audience and better overall engagement.

Follow Amanda Natividad on Social

Website: https://amandanat.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amandanat

Sparktoro: https://sparktoro.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amandanat/

More About Today's Guest, Amanda Natividad

VP Marketing at SparkToro | I said Zero-Click Content first

Amanda Natividad is the Vice President of Marketing at SparkToro, a pioneering audience research startup. She is acclaimed for initiating the SparkToro Office Hours webinar series, which has achieved up to 1,300 signups per session. Additionally, she launched the Audience Research newsletter, now boasting over 50,000 subscribers. Before joining SparkToro, Amanda was the Head of Marketing at Growth Machine, where she successfully elevated the podcast's reach to over 20,000 downloads. Her tenure at Fitbit as part of the B2B marketing team further underscores her substantial experience in the marketing field.

Amanda's career began in journalism, where she served as an editorial producer for prominent tech news sites like paidContent.org and Gigaom. Her journey also includes a passionate detour into the culinary arts, having studied at Le Cordon Bleu and worked in the Los Angeles Times’ test kitchen.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Amanda has a rich engagement with culture and media. She is a fan of critically acclaimed TV shows and films such as "The Wire," "Fleabag," and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Her diverse taste extends into literature and music, with favorites like Tara Westover's "Educated" and tracks like "So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings" by Caroline Polachek.

Amanda has also contributed her insights to various platforms, discussing topics from product-led content to influencer marketing. Her article, "6 Red Flags to Look for When Hiring a Marketing Agency," reflects her in-depth knowledge and experience in the field. She maintains a Rolodex of contacts for networking and collaborative opportunities, illustrating her proactive approach to professional growth and community building.

A Transcription of The Talk

Mark Drager: So, Amanda, you are the VP of Marketing at Spark Toro. Now, what makes this organization so interesting? And our longtime listeners will know, because we helped sponsor an event with you guys. And we've had Rand on the podcast. But there are three people in your company. Which is strange, right? So you have a co-founder who is in charge of technology, you have a co-founder who's in charge of, I guess, ideation and big picture and talking. And then there's you. That is a very strange type of SAS organization, isn't it?

Amanda Natividad: It is very strange. And we can talk about that a little bit more if you think your audience would be interested. But I think it works really well because we share the same values. We have a lot of respect for each other. And we trust each other.

Mark Drager: So when Rand and Casey, the co-founders of Spark Toro, were deciding that their first hire should be a VP of marketing, you got this role. Do you know why they made that decision? Why this was going to be the next role versus say, like, anyone else that could be part of an organization? You know, I mean, like, not sales, not lead generation, not paid performance for paid advertising. Like, you're the catch-all for everything, it seems.

Amanda Natividad: Well, I guess they hired me because I made them. I mean, Rand had followed me back on Twitter after obviously, I had followed his work for years. He followed me back, couldn't believe it. And then we ended up becoming sort of friends online. And one day he and his wife, Geraldine, were coming to LA where I live. And he was like, "Hey, do you wanna grab lunch?" And, of course, I canceled whatever plans I could have even thought of and was like, "Yes, I'm free." And when we met, I ended up pitching him to my dream role at Spark Toro. And I guess maybe I'll just say that what helped was that I had a job at the time. So when I pitched it, I wasn't really desperate. Like I thought, "Look, the worst case scenario is it's not a fit. And he says, 'No thanks.' And that's fine with me." But it ended up working out somehow; he convinced Casey, who we very lovingly call our kind of resident rumpus.

Mark Drager: So even why I wanted to start with a story because I find it so fascinating and interesting, you know, the fact that you're putting your content out there, he follows you, you connect, that leads to a conversation, from the conversation leads to the pitch, from the pitch, at least to now, you guys working together. And this is something that, you know, I've watched you for maybe a year and a half now, in between your organization's webinars that you do, where you had these open offices, where you invite your community to come in and learn about stuff or ask questions. And it's kind of this live presentation between your work that you do on LinkedIn, where you're posting these very thought-provoking questions, or articles or pieces of content that always lead to a tonne of engagement. And I just imagine you being like, "I'm gonna post something now. And then I'm going to sit here for the next four hours and respond to everyone," and the emails that you put out and the events that you host, and just like all the stuff that you do. I've been trying to crack how it is that you've been so good at building community, at creating content at actually having these conversations on these social platforms where they are real conversations. They're not just, I don't know, like, I just can't do it. I can't figure it out. I'm not sure why you're so good at it. And I'm so bad at it. But that's what I would like to learn.

Amanda Natividad: Well, thank you. I mean, I feel like a lot of it is just because I just do it. Like, it is true that if I'm posting something on social, like LinkedIn, I'll go to the post and check it regularly to respond to comments and clarify anything, you know, if I misspoke. Or if someone has a question, you know, I do all that. And I just say that because I think a big thing with community management and community growth is you really just have to roll up your sleeves and do the work. Like there's a lot that you have to do that just doesn't scale. And you kind of have to just trust that it's the right thing to do. And you got to believe it's the right thing to do. Because it's in service to your audience or to your customers.

Mark Drager: So we go through this because I'd love to parse this apart. So let's take a LinkedIn post, for example. Are you trying to follow a schedule? Are you just like you see something and if it catches, like if it makes you feel a certain way, or makes you think a certain thing, or if you have a certain guttural response to it, you're like, that is something that's worth pursuing? Like, where does ideation start for you?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, I mean, definitely, yes, but also to what you said about like, as I scroll through it, I think about the things that make me have that kind of guttural response. And then I like to write them as sort of standalone posts. So rather than I mean, sometimes I'll leave a comment, right? But in general, if I don't agree with something, I'm not going to reply to that person to say hey, I don't agree for these reasons. Mainly because like being on the receiving end, I get that sometimes it's annoying, or you might read something wrong or like, you might interpret the tone differently. And I just don't really feel like having that kind of conversation. But plus, I think my following is sizable enough that if I do that, sometimes, and this actually has happened, sometimes other people will pile on and be like, yeah, like, way to dunk on this person, when that's not something I intended on doing, right. Or sometimes it's just No, I just wanted to express a different point of view. And now it looks like I'm kind of bullying this person, which I don't like. So anyway, I take that sort of visceral reaction opinion. And then I write it as a post, like, as if it would stand on its own without the reader having to have read that previous post. And then I just post that like, in a couple of days, or the following week or something.

Mark Drager: Okay, I love that. Because this is what I bump up a little bit against. So I often will find myself and I imagine anyone listening to this has had the same experience, you find yourself wanting to respond to something. And then I would write a sentence or two, and then I would delete it. And then I would go home, but it just really does bother me. And I'd go to start to write something and then go, oh, no, I don't really feel like getting in a fight with someone on the internet. And then I go back and forth, and back and forth. Because I just think there's no way within the context of this small conversation one, they are certainly not going to get the nuance of my argument two, it's going to look like piling on. And so I do nothing. I do nothing. And so I love the tip of like, Hey, if you feel that, tuck it away somewhere, maybe respond in real-time, but don't release it in real-time. Because the other thing I have to imagine is some people see through that, don't they? Like they know that you're posting like, like, oh, man, your response is clearly to something that I provoked you to do, or that never happens?

Amanda Natividad: Well, I think about that, right? Because I don't want someone to connect the dots and be like, oh, yeah, I disagree. I hate that person too, Amanda, where I'm like, no, no, whoa, I just wasn't even going there. I just had a different point of view that I thought was worth expressing. But I think it's important because I think in doing so, right, and finding a way to frame your argument as a standalone piece, something you're also doing is sort of tapping into that cultural conversation without doing it in a way that's so on the nose, you know what I mean?

Mark Drager: And then you mentioned that you do plan to spend time engaging. Sometimes people give you comments that I feel you can respond to and have a conversation with, and others, sometimes I just look at them. And I'm like, I know I like I have no response to this. I don't I don't have anything to add. I don't have anything to say. I kind of want to say like, thanks for commenting, but that feels weak. So I always feel like it's more work trying to figure out how to engage with the comments than it is to actually create the original content to begin with. Do you have any cheat codes for us in terms of how we could have that commenting and interacting be better? Help me get better at this, please.

Amanda Natividad: It's so funny. Because I agree. Sometimes I'm going through my own replies. And I'm like, I don't know what to say. It's not even like I disagree with someone, right? It's just I don't know. So, if I don't know what to say, I'll usually just, you know, like the comment, just to show some acknowledgment.

Mark Drager: Is like prayer emoji, rock on emoji, clap emoji, different versions of smiley faces. I'm hoping that people see that. I'm like, thanks for commenting. But what I'm looking for, is you to tell me, Mark, that's enough. Like, there are no rules to this.

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, just hit a like, I think mainly, it's that you want to make sure that you're replying to at least half the comments, right? You know, and I think nobody expects you to reply to every single one. And past a certain point, I'll stop checking it or engaging with it just because it's just too much at that point. But for LinkedIn, for instance, where there's a sort of longer tail or a longer shelf life in which your content is being served up, right, it might even be like a week or two. I usually drop off from responding after a couple of days. And at that point, I might even just mute the post, in case it's overwhelming. But I think mostly, it's that you want people to see that you're actually engaging and listening and taking into account feedback. But nobody expects you to reply to everything. And finally, if you see somebody with a familiar face or name, and you think wait, I think this person comments a lot. I do try to make sure I reply to those people even if it is to say like, thank you so much for your thoughts. Just because I feel like it's important to kind of acknowledge your fans, so to speak, or the people who are supporting you.

Mark Drager: Ooh, la la. You're so bougie with your fans.

Amanda Natividad: Everyone has fans.

Mark Drager: Now, you have obviously been building Arturo's following, and you're in charge of that brand. But you also have a personal brand. And I know from past things that you've shared, that I've just picked up along the way that you're really into makeup tutorials, or into different aspects. When it comes to B2B plays, do you like to cross those boundaries? Or do you suggest we can only be known for one thing on each platform? I'm only going to be known for one thing, and I'm just going to talk about that one thing. How much, because there's been a lot of advice over the years to share your passions and share your... and sometimes I just think no one gives a shit that I'm into going to musicals. I don't think, you know, maybe they do. But like, unless I figure out a way to say, "No, I'm bringing this up because I'm working on a post right now about this, like the things I've learned by watching these eight Broadway musicals over the last year." And let's, if there's a way I can tie it back to something, I don't think anyone cares that we're interested in these things. How do you navigate that?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, I tend to agree. But I guess I would also say, Well, I'll start with, it depends, right? Like, if you're trying to grow an audience in a certain industry, field, or niche, then you should stick with what 80 to 90% of your content should be about that niche because that's the way that people will know what you do and why they should follow you. And like, frankly, once you deviate from that people tend not to like it, right? Like if you follow somebody because you're like, "I want sales tactics. That's what I want. That's what I want my feed," that I mean, look, that's understandable, right? And you follow somebody who's doing this. And then suddenly, they're posting things like, "Hey, is anyone watching Shogun right now? I love that show," you might kind of be like, "I don't care what you're watching. Like, I don't, that's not why I came here." Right? So ultimately, if you're trying to grow an audience, if that is the goal, and of course, everyone has different goals, but if that is the goal, then you should stay like 80 to 90% on topic. And it's hard for me to really, like, quantify this or really, truly back this up with data, because, well, I haven't looked into it yet. But my hypothesis is that when you're creating whatever content it is, or, you know when you're kind of building an audience, you have to be cognizant of the platform in which you're posting. So like you mentioned, I do like makeup tutorials, right? Like, I don't create any myself, but I like watching them. But I'm not gonna go to LinkedIn in hopes of finding that, right? Like, that is what my Finsta or my anonymous TikTok account is for; that's what I do there.

Mark Drager: Oh, the challenge for everyone, stalks you now to find that anonymous account.

Amanda Natividad: But like, that's what I do there. But I don't go to TikTok thinking, "Oh, I really want to learn the latest in, you know, keyword research." No, I go to TikTok for clean talk and makeup tutorials. And basically, that's it.

Mark Drager: That's like my YouTube feed. It's funny because I get, I think most of us do, but I get sucked into like, you know, music theory, I don't play a single instrument anymore. But I watch a lot of Rick Beato talk about what's happening within the music industry and rock'n'roll in production. I just got sucked into like, City Skylines, video games where people are playing SimCity versions of games and building stuff. And it's like, anyway, I get sucked into that stuff. But I often think that it's our job to figure out ways to bring the personal into business. And in my experience, it just not only feels uncomfortable, I don't really care when other people do it. And so I question why this advice is out there. I just don't think it makes sense. But I was looking for some confirmation bias from you to help me feel that I am correct.

Amanda Natividad: Would you go on LinkedIn Live to watch someone play a video game?

Mark Drager: I mean, I wouldn't. But I'm also across from people who, like, I was on a call the other day with someone really great, a really smart business person, but they were talking about the fact that you know, I'm in podcasting, that I've had four podcasts, I do this because it's my passion. But they were saying, "Oh, you know, I'm thinking about launching a podcast, and I think it's just not gonna be edited. And we're just gonna talk about whatever we want, I'm gonna have anyone on that I want. And because at the end of the day, I just want, you know, like, I just think that it'd be great if people listened to me talk to my friends." And I'm like, "Okay, why, like, what makes you think you're so special?" I don't want to be mean, but what makes you think you're so special that one, I'm going to find your content amongst the 1.8 million podcasts that exist, that I'm going to care, that I'm going to come and listen, and I'm going to come back and listen time and time again, that I want to hear your unedited, not thought-out thought process like you're just hanging out. And so, there's a lot of people producing a lot of content that they push out there that I don't think they realize no one gives a shit about, right.

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, I mean, that's why I'm just really a big fan of "say something when you have something to say." Like, I don't want to see someone's hot take. I want to see their well-done hot take, right? Like, cook it a little longer?

Mark Drager: Do you want to see the one that's been thought about, not just rambled off?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, don't give me the half-baked, reflexive response to something you don't like. Tell me the thing that you put some thought into. And then maybe you slept on it and then edited that piece and then sent it out. Like, I want that.

Mark Drager: I love that you put out a, I don't even know, I'm not on Twitter. I've never been on Twitter. I know it's called X now. What do you call an X? Is it called an X or is it called a tweet still?

Amanda Natividad: I think they call it a post.

Mark Drager: Oh, okay. So, I saw earlier today that you posted a post on X where you said, "I wish more companies hired people like me." Now that right away got my attention. Because I was like, wow, brag a lot. But there's more. Hold on, "I worked at a tiny software startup, I get to write blog posts, whenever I feel like it, and send a newsletter that reaches 60,000 people, I think all of us as listeners would love to be able to have on our list, and work on product-led growth tactics that do a lot of heavy lifting. You make your own deadlines. You rarely have meetings. Last week, you randomly stopped working at 11 am and ended up drinking and hanging out with my family all day, you're well-paid. You don't manage a team, but you do roll up your sleeves and get stuff done." So, the reason I bring this up is a lot of the advice we're focused on, it's not replicable. If you work in an extremely corporate environment, if you work to a content calendar that has to put stuff out, if you don't use any data, or don't track anything, if you post, but never comment on what people are doing. And so, have you gotten results because you kind of have a lot of luxuries at your disposal? And that has allowed you to get the results that you've got? Or do you believe that these types of results are possible, even without all these benefits that you mentioned in this post?

Amanda Natividad: That's a good question. You know, I do think it's a little bit of both, right? So, when I joined Spark Toro, I was very lucky to join with having access to an email list of something like 40,000 people, right? Even that's a lot. Not a lot of people inherit a list like that, right? Like, a lot of us are tasked with growing a list and...

Mark Drager: An engaged list, a warm list. This wasn't some cold, purchased list, like you had a really solid list at your disposal as well, right?

Amanda Natividad: Right, absolutely. And we clean our lists regularly, like every once every three to four months or so. We do it regularly to make sure it's a good quality list. So part of it is that, right? Like, I—and there's also that luxury in working with Rand Fishkin, right, someone who is a literal marketing legend. Of course, like, that is a luxury that I have as a scrappy marketer. On the other hand, and I say this because I think it's important that people know, a lot of my personal brand, like my audience growth, a lot of it was before I even joined Spark Toro. I think when I joined Spark Toro, I only had like, maybe, like 20,000 followers on Twitter, X, right? Like, that's not anything, right, going from zero to 20,000 was all me. And so when people say like, "Oh, it's just so easy for you because you work with Rand," I do see that, like, I acknowledge that I do have that sort of competitive edge. But at the same time, it's also me, right, it's also the fact that I rolled up my sleeves, I did the work. I grew on Twitter, largely by writing these highly engaging threads that gave marketing advice. And I would publish these maybe about once a week or so. So, I do this once a week for several months. And on one hand, it's like, "Oh, that's a lot." On the other hand, right, it's, you could also say, like, one each of my threads is about like, maybe 200 words, if that. So it's also like saying, "Yeah, I did one 200-word blog post a week, for like, several months." That's not that much work, arguably.

Mark Drager: How do you know if something's good or not? If you work in an organization that doesn't have KPIs or deadlines, or targets or any of that stuff, like, in a world where you can be anything and you can do anything, and you could spend your time anywhere, how do you decide what is most valuable for Spark Toro?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, that's totally fair. So, you know, we focus on chill work, right? That's what we call it. We focus on outcomes, not input. We focus a lot on trust, and respecting our boundaries. So, to that, I'll say, like, sure, yeah, I make my own deadlines. I don't have somebody hounding me each day, like, "Where's that thing?" But I do set deadlines, right? And I know that there are things happening at the company that I need to align with, right? So, it could be, for instance, that one self-imposed deadline is our twice-per-month newsletter, right? Every other Wednesday, I know that I'm going to be working on that and editing it before it goes out on Thursday. So that happens every other week without fail. So that's the deadline. The other thing that we have coming up is the relaunch of our product, Spark Toro V2. So that is happening, right, regardless of whether or not I'm around, it's happening. And I know it's coming up in the next several weeks or so. So, well, the things I have to do, it doesn't need to get done tomorrow. But it needs to get done over the next probably two to three weeks. So as long as I'm working within that time constraint, I know that I'm okay. And we work in this organization in this way because it works because we're very self-motivated. Or I'll say I am because I work for Rand and Casey, who are the co-founders. So obviously, they have to be self-motivated. But as an employee, right? I'm self-motivated by, like, I want to do good work. That's what I care about. I just have a bar of excellence, and I want to reach it each time. I have a personal reputation I care about, right? Like, I don't want to do a shitty job and give any reason for my colleagues to trash talk to me later on. Like, it's not like I think about that specific thing each day, right? But I just mean, like, I inherently care about doing a good job at my job.

Mark Drager: I'll post on LinkedIn where you put this amazing post up. I sound like I'm stalking you. I promise I'm not.

Amanda Natividad: For a conversation.

Mark Drager: Yes, that's it, I prepared. But I saw a comment or brand on LinkedIn. You posted this amazing post. And then it was something like, "Hey, Amanda, here's the link to this thing that you talked about that you forgot to include." And when I saw that, I was like, I know he was doing it in his friendly way. But I was like, "Oh my goodness, like, I felt pangs of remorse and insecurity. And I felt so bad. Like, oh my goodness, I hate when I make mistakes like that. I hope Amanda is okay." And you may not even care, it may not even matter. But like in this world, when little things get dropped like that because you don't have people queuing your work. And it's very challenging to be a team of one. And this is why I find your ability to operate at the strategic level, at the production level, and take care of everything. It's just, that it's so hard to produce really great work when you're doing it all yourself. Because you just don't have people to balance out or QA your work or check it or any of that stuff. But when something like that happens, is it just not a big deal at all? Are you like, with that high-status bar that you have for yourself, do you beat yourself up? And you're like, "I did forget that link?"

Amanda Natividad: I do beat myself up. So on a personal level, right, on the personal surface, just whatever personal level, I see Rand's comment, and I laugh about it, right? And I'm like, "Oh, that is funny." Like, and he was being kind, right? He wasn't trying to call me out or be rude, right? But he was he had to fix.

Mark Drager: You on Slack and say, "Hey, that post that you just posted? You know, he's just like in public and."

Amanda Natividad: I don't mind.

Mark Drager: And you know, the only reason I noticed that as well is I had him on my podcast a long time ago. I forgot to include the link. And he responded back with, "Mark, I think this is an excellent post, where might one find this podcast episode that I was featured on?" I was like...

Amanda Natividad: It also helps to know that Rand truly means it lovingly, right? That he's not a passive-aggressive person by any means. So if he were, I would probably be more bothered by it on a personal level. But because he's not, he's extremely direct and clear, and he doesn't hold grudges, it makes me laugh. But on an internal monologue, like, how I feel about myself, my work level? Gosh, I don't stop thinking about it, right? I'm like, "Why did I do that? Like, oh my gosh, Amanda, all you had to do was like, reread it, literally, how hard is that?" Or when I sent the wrong link in an email? This was like several weeks ago. See, I'll never forget it, like, first, I do want to pat myself on the back a little bit and say, "You know what, in the like, three, three and a half years I've been at Spark Toro, that was the first time I sent a wrong link." So let's say that first, but it was the wrong link to a webinar registration. Like, that's pretty bad, right? What it's like...

Mark Drager: But here's actually what statistics show. So when you follow up the first email with a second email saying, "Here's the link," or "I'm sorry, there was a mistake," you actually get a higher open rate and a higher click-through rate on the second email than on the first. So we've actually used that strategy before where we do a follow-up on purpose just to get a higher open rate.

Amanda Natividad: I'm checking it right now to see if it did get a higher open rate because I think it did, but it was not intentional.

Mark Drager: No, but it still works.

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, it works. It got a 37% open rate and 1% clicks, but it went to like 70,000 people. So, I mean, you know, it's not going to be a super high click rate because there are just too many people. But yeah.

Mark Drager: And did that outperform the original email?

Amanda Natividad: Oh, you know, what, not by much. The original email had a 36% open rate, so that had a 37% open rate.

Mark Drager: There you go. There we go. Where I'm going with this is, if you're listening, and you are responsible for your marketing team, you're responsible for sales, you're C-suite, you're an owner-operator, and you're thinking, "I know that we don't do content marketing well enough. I know we don't do lead nurturing well enough, or our email sequences aren't strong enough," or "I was talking to a client the other day, who we're working with, because he, this was his quote, 'We are old school, we need to be new school.'" So, there are a lot of businesses out there that just don't have the Amanda. But they also don't have the 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 different team members or different specialties or different things that they need. What I like is, that you seem like this unicorn, but if I wanted to replicate the success of bringing you onto my team, if I was a listener, and I wanted to bring someone like you on my team, what should I do as a working style, as a culture, as an approach, to be able to get someone like you who can operate at the strategic level but also work day-to-day on the production? And really kind of just be an army of one?

Amanda Natividad: So, okay, one thing I want to start with saying, and I actually meant to say earlier but I lost track, is bringing it back to business outcomes, right? Define success in the role through business outcomes, not through marketing metrics. So a marketing metric is something like 1000 impressions, right?

Mark Drager: Six versus 37% open rate on an email, exactly right. And frankly, might not matter. And the 1% might not matter because, at the end of the day, if it's a webinar, you want sign-ups. Right, right. Maybe executives don't even matter. Maybe it's purchases, or whatever it might be.

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, yeah. So those are marketing metrics, right? And it's not to say that those don't matter. It's that the success of someone in a role like mine, where I'm wearing many hats and serving at both a strategic and tactical level, isn't determined day-to-day by those metrics. Like, if my newsletter tomorrow has only a 39% open rate, that doesn't directly affect my performance evaluation, and it shouldn't. But we're focused on business outcomes, like, how the content that I create serves to grow our business in some meaningful way, whether that is helping a customer to retain, helping somebody get more value out of the tool they're already paying for, bringing in new leads, right? Those are, to me, business outcomes. I think the more that business leaders focus on that, and the more that they can stay aligned with their marketing team or marketing person, the more successful they can be. So that's a really important thing. And so what I also want to call out there is ensuring that your content is meeting these business objectives. There are ways to do that, right? I've written a blog post on this, but looking at the sort of KPIs for quality, to gauge whether your content is high quality through these business outcome-focused KPIs, right? So some examples of that might be the number of deals closed, the number of deals started, getting some attribution on like, just by way of "how did you hear about us" through our content, right, having that in the dropdown field. But these are all sorts of ways of gauging the quality of your content, and thus, whether you are making a business impact.

Mark Drager: And so most of your work is focused on awareness, and brand building, and obviously leads to these business KPIs. But you're not working through your data to build attribution models to track, you know, original traffic source tied to conversion, or cost of acquisition per lead source, or any of that type of stuff. You focus mainly on brand building, I would say more like a softer, experiential type of content. Is that correct?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, I'd say so. We do a lot. And we do that through a bunch of different ways, right, anywhere from the social media content that we post natively on social media, to the research studies that Rand does, right? Like, that's also very much a top-line kind of brand awareness initiative, even though it's very related to what we do at Spark Toro.

Mark Drager: And that's one last thing I know that we're up against the clock. I could talk to you all day. But one last thing that I have found that you guys have done quite well, and I think larger organizations do this, I don't see this so much on the smaller medium size, is you develop your own IP. So you mentioned, you know, the research studies that are produced, but by developing that high-level IP, and the high-level research, the high-level frameworks, the high-level strategies, or whatever, it must make content easier lower down when you're simply taking this insight, taking these learnings, taking your perspective on what the high-level IP is, and then it gives you something to talk about, right?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, absolutely. Like, it gives you something to talk about. It also gives you additional backup for the other big ideas that you want to pursue. That's also really important. So when you create your own IP, you're just, you could think of it as creating this, like, awesome defensible repository of claims for yourself, right? Like, these are the things, these are the things I'm going to reference, here's how I can prove what I believe in. Here's why I think this trend is going in this direction. Like, creating your own IP enables you to do all these things. It ultimately helps your content be more sustainable over time.

Mark Drager: And so final question as we wrap up the conversation. I had this realization a few years ago, but I have this thing that I write down quite often whenever I like to create, like a motto, but I like to have an intention. Whenever I'm going into something. We were working on a client project the other day where our client's content is often ripped off and replicated by people overseas, they just literally steal it and replicate it. And so our intention going into the strategy work, the quote that I put at the top of the page document for everyone on the team was, "Let's see, you steal this, fuckers." And that was like, we had to, we could not produce anything that did not meet the "let's see, you just try and steal this. Let's see you do it. How are you going to do this?" And so one of mine, though, is like, I want to be respected and not famous. I don't care about fame. But being respected is quite important to me and my brand and my company and everything we do. When you're producing your work and doing what you do, do you have any of these kinds of mottos yourself, or what really, at the end of the day, is most important to you, in your work and your career?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, I definitely think about respect, right? Like, I want to be respected. But I also want to respect myself. Do I feel good about this thing that I'm saying? Maybe the other thing that I think about too is I don't want to be wrong, right? So that's one way to not—every post, now that I'm going to explain. It's not that I have discomfort about being proven wrong about or changing my opinion, it isn't that I'm, I'm very much a kind of what is it, strong beliefs, weakly held, like if I learn something, if I get new information, I'm happy to revise my thinking. When I say that I am worried about being wrong, or that I want to be right, I'm coming from a place of I want to write or put my ideas out in the world in a way that is defensible. And the best way that I can make this defensible is to write from my own experiences. So what I'm not going to say is, I'm not going to say everyone needs to write their blog posts this way, right? I don't think there's one way to write blog posts. What I will say is, I think the best way to write a blog post is to infuse it with your experience. Here's how I do it, right? Because I want to be able to point to the things that I know are working versus seeming like I'm trying to position myself as an objective know-it-all, who says like, "I've read 100 landing pages, and here's the last resource you need on landing pages." I'm not going to say that. And also, by the way, there are a lot of other people who do that; I don't need to compete with them. I just need to be myself. And I need to find a way to put my ideas out in the world that are defensible, that can resonate with a lot of people, that help a lot of people. So ultimately, those are the things I'm thinking about as I'm getting ready to create content or post something online.